In its latest attempt to keep Google+ relevant, Google has launched the first set of features designed specifically for businesses. The preview period begins today for Google Apps users.
Additional features and controls will be added over time, with the service being offered for free though 2013. It seems that Google plans to begin charging for these services come 2014, but there is no mention of a cost at the current time. It will likely depend on demand/use.
Here are the business tools offered by Google+ through Google Apps as of today’s announcement:
- Video Hangout On Gmail, Calendar & Docs
The best thing Google+ has going for it, in my opinion, is the Hangout feature, which allows up to 10 people communicate via video chat. It’s an easy way to hold video conference meetings, and now it has been integrated with Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs. An inexpensive alternative to costly software, the only requirements are a device with a camera and an internet connection.
- Private Sharing Within an Organization
Posts can be marked as restricted so only members of an organization can view them and they cannot be re-shared. Furthermore, posts can be shared with only specific people within the organization.
- Improved Administrative Controls
To ensure protected sharing, administrators can set company-wide default post restrictions. Restricted hangouts for private meetings can also be enabled.
All of this is just the beginning, says Google. Much more is planned for the coming months, although they only details that have been revealed are plans for a mobile version of Google+ for enterprise users and more administrative controls.
I think this is a step in the right direction for Google. These new tools can certainly be utilized by home based business owners. My first suggestion for improvement is to allow more than 10 users to be a part of a Hangout. What other features would you like to see integrated with Google Apps?